Last night I had the pleasure of attending my first Mac Schools Net meeting for the year. Mac School Net is coordinated by two very dedicated educators in Deb Hicks and Mark Richardson, two very knowledgable and experience educators who love all things education and all things Mac!
These meetings run once a term and involve the participants investigating new technologies in both hardware and software forms as well as then investigating how these can be integrated back in to teaching and learning programs. As the Mac School Net Website states, the meetings are all about:
• Sharing knowledge
• Professional Learning
• Informal conversations
• Providing a catalyst for ideas
• 21st century learning
• All things Apple
• Combining pedagogy with technology
What more could you want from a meeting!
Each meeting is held at a different venue which is a great idea as walking in and seeing other settings is always a highlight in itself. Last night we investigated a number of items, all of which were extremely relevant and beneficial no matter the specific role of those who attended, and i’ll now run through these briefly now. 😉
The first item that we looked at was an online resource called unrealfooty.com.au Now. This immediately had my attention being an avid Supercoach fan here in Victoria! Unreal footy is a resource for i would say middle to upper primary, and right up to middle secondary which involves integrating and using the mathematics of AFL to teach students about important mathematical concepts, all while involved in a Fantasy type Football environment. In short if you are looking for a way of engaging students in mathematics, and of course, without essentially stereotyping, disengaged boys!!!, this could work out very very well! There is a site licence fee of approximately $300, which is school wide however i am unsure if this is dependant on the size of the school. Below find the two great prestations, one for teachers and one for students to guide you through just how to use the valuable resource!
The next item on our agenda was a big one, and one i think we were all most wanting to hear about. This being, Apple’s VPP, or Volume Purchasing Program.
Michal Bogatko from Beyond the Box came to speak to us all about this and as I’ve mentioned, we were keen to see just what was involved and how to go about implementing such a thing if that’s what schools wished to do.
Now. From what I understood from last nights meeting, it essentially runs like this… (here we go…)
The program involves a school to have what is known as a Program Manager. This person basically oversees the Apple VPP accounts and has complete control over the program. From here we move what is called a Program facilitator. This is a seperate person who is responsible for the purchasing of applications and books via the specialised iTunes VPP portal, volume.itunes.apple.com, as VPP cannot occur via the normal iTunes store. Now a manager and a facilitator can be be the same person but for some reason they require two separate Apple ID’s, one of which being tagged to your educational setting.
There are 3 ways to purchase the applications and or book (this apparently does not include text books as yet). These 3 ways are:
1. Via a Credit Card
2. Via a PayPal Account.
3. By purchasing Volume Vouchers. These are purchased via the online store and can be purchased using school written Purchase Orders!
Schools can only purchase volume vouchers in denominations of $100, $500, 1k, 5k, and 10k amounts.
Now. How do we go about purchasing what we want. Well. The first step one you have purchased your Volume Vouchers for example is to to purchase what app’s you require. You must note however that to even receive VPP you need to purchase 20+ of the one application of book, to then be elegible to receive %50 off the cost of that App or book. The third step is then redeem these codes on the devices you’re wanting the app’s on. These codes can be emailed or, if using an MDM (Mobile Device Manager) such as Apple’s Device Configurator or Casper Suite, the App’s can be pushed out to the devices wirelessly and then installed.
A few important points… Being still coordinated via Apple in the U.S., all Australian School will need to obtain a DUNS number, which i think is the equivalent to an ABN here is Australia. Businesses and Organisations out of the U.S. are able to obtain these at no cost, just like an ABN number. Why do you need one. It is via this number that your school is then checked i believe to see if it is a legitimate educational setting and that you’ll be required to enter this number when doing your app purchasing.
I think that is it! I hope i got the info correct… In the next week or two i am planning on trialling this and seeing how it all pan’s out! I’ll aim to keep you posted! The slideshow the Michal went through will soon be up online and i’ll be sure to embed it here.
Need to catch my breath!
The final item on the agenda was looking at FREE, yep, FREE app’s for your Macbook. Deb ran us through a great list of applications which are available from the Mac App Store. Without going in to a whole lot of detail, as the excellent Wikispace that Deb and Mark have created, says it all! I’ve included a screen shot of the several of the great Applications that Deb mentioned and discussed however head to the Wiki and you’ll be able to see them all for yourself!
I say a lot of the time to my own staff as well as other educators that the applications you find, wether they be iOS or Mac orientated are only limited by your imagination! Hopefully you’ll be able to see the great potential that what Deb has shared have in a teaching and learning environment.
So… If you are in and around the Melbourne area and a keen Mac user, keep your eyers posted to the mac Schools Net webpage for dates, times and venues of the meetings and… well… get along! 😉